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Embroidery Stitches

You’ll need stranded embroidery cotton and a sharp or tapestry needle, depending on the fabric you use. See below for a guide for transferring a design – one of the simplest ways is to trace it directly on to your fabric. We use a pale blue coloured pencil – very forgiving against a light-coloured fabric if any lines remain once the design is complete.


Use backstitch for a neat outline. Bring the needle up and take it back over the fabric, as shown. Push the needle back up in front of where you started, making sure you keep all the stitches neat and even.

Embroidery Stitches - Backstitch


With stem stitch, work from left to right, in regular small stitches along the line of the design. The thread always emerges on the left side of the previous stitch. This stitch is used for flower stems, outlines and so on.

Embroidery Stitches - Stem Stitch


For filling in blocks of colour, satin stitch gives some stunning results. Follow the outline using straight stitches made very close together. You can neaten things with a backstitch around the outline before you start.

Embroidery Stitches - Satin Stitch


For a French knot, come up through the fabric and wrap the thread around the needle, now take the needle halfway back in. Slide the thread down the needle with your finger, and push the needle back down.

Embroidery Stitches - French Knot


To make a chain stitch, bring the needle up and then back down into the same hole. Before you pull it through, catch it at the top of the loop and repeat so that the stitches seem to interlock in a chain.

Embroidery Stitches - Chain Stitch